Phil Kessel Nearing Return to Lackluster Leafs

by abournenesn

Oct 25, 2009

Phil Kessel Nearing Return to Lackluster Leafs The way the Maple Leafs' season has been going, the pressure on winger Phil Kessel is plummeting lower and lower.

Toronto's hockey Messiah is set to make his debut as early as Nov. 3, according to the Toronto Star. The $27 million man's task of turning the club around appears to be already out of reach before he even sets foot on the ice, as the Leafs are winless through their first eight games played.

Offseason shoulder surgery has shelved last year's 36-goal scorer, who fled Boston for greener pastures. The winger and the B's front office couldn't agree on a reasonable price tag, so Kessel was dealt to Boston's division rivals in exchange for a couple of first-round picks and one second-round pick.

Kessel has been practicing with his teammates for some time now, but general manager Brian Burke has kept his prized possession from returning to the lineup until he is completely healed.

"I can shoot fine now, no problem there," Kessel told the Star on Friday. "But I haven't started contact yet. There's still another level when you get to games."

Started contact? Many Boston fans may argue that he hasn't started making contact since entering the league three years ago. Aside from his slow recovery, Kessel has been having a hard time watching his team churn out a league-worst 15 goals during this winless stretch. After helping the B's capture 53 wins a year ago, watching this Toronto drought hasn't been easy for Kessel.

"It's so hard to hold back," Kessel told the National Post last week. "Obviously, you want to be out there playing. I hate watching the games, especially when the team is struggling. It makes you want to come back even more.But I've been out long enough, so if it's two extra weeks more, why rush it?"

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